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Sean Carroll, Determinism, and Laplace’s Demon

Today we continue our series looking at physicist Sean Carroll's new book, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, 2016). After exploring whether the universe needed a cause to get started, Carroll next turns to the topic of determinism: is reality determined or free? Laplace's Demon Carroll's answer relies on a famous thought-experiment involving "Laplace's Demon". Pierre-Simon Laplace was an accomplished French physicist and mathematician.... Read More

Is Sean Carroll Correct That the Universe Moves By Itself?

Many theists, including myself, believe that some of the strongest arguments for God rely on the logical need for a First Cause of the universe (or First Mover, depending on which argument you use.) This sort of argument goes back at least to Aristotle, who thousands of years ago suggested that, "Everything that is in motion must be moved by something" (and by motion he meant any change whatsoever, not just locomotion, or spatial change). However, physicist Sean Carroll thinks Aristotle... Read More

The Big Problem with Sean Carroll’s “Poetic Naturalism”

Today we continue our look at Sean Carroll's anticipated new book,The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, 2016). Carroll starts his book by diving right into the deep end. The first chapter in the first section concerns a huge topic: the fundamental nature of reality. Carroll explains that philosophers consider this the domain of ontology, but then he offers a strange definition. Ontology, he says, is "the study of the basic structure of the... Read More

Why Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture” Is Too Small

Physicist Sean Carroll has a high reputation in the scientific and atheist communities, and it's well-deserved. He's produced several acclaimed books on the philosophy of time, the Higgs Boson particle, and general relatively. But none of his past books has been as daring or sweeping as his latest project, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, 2016). One reviewer for Nature began by stating, "I don't think I have ever read anything with... Read More

Answering Stephen Colbert’s Favorite Atheist Physicist

In a book that was released a few days ago, Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist, critic of religion, and former guest of The Colbert Report, presents what he calls The Big Picture. Neil deGrasse Tyson says the book “weav[es] the threads of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and philosophy into a seamless narrative tapestry. Sean Carroll enthralls us with what we’ve figured out in the universe and humbles us with what we don’t yet understand. Yet in the end, it’s the meaning... Read More

Why Richard Dawkins Was Simply Wrong in His “Reason Rally” Speech

On June 4, a few thousand atheists gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for an event they dubbed the “Reason Rally.” Due to health reasons, Richard Dawkins could not be there in person to address the audience, but he did send a video message, the transcript of which has been passed around via atheist blogs.     In it, Dawkins highlights how atheists are mistreated in the U.S., especially when religious people ask them the incredibly insensitive question “What... Read More

Atheism, Prot-Enlight, and the Schizophrenic Republic

Last week, I wrote about the longstanding Catholic drive to reinterpret the philosophy of Plato as realist. In actuality, Aristotle’s philosophy perfected Plato’s by connecting the material to the formal world—two separated domains which, in Plato, remain wholly alien to one another. Accordingly, it is quite a “stretcher,” I suggested, when Catholics talk about Plato as a realist. Any philosophy which divorces the material and the formal qualifies as anti-realism, because matter’s... Read More

Modern Atheism: Dragging Plato Along Aristotle’s Coattails

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In today's Catholic Church, Platonism and Aristotelianism are often considered equal. It is a dangerous error that hails all the way back to the first neo-Platonists in the third century. Simply put, the true description of reality, rightly recognized by the Catholic Church, is that account given by Aristotle (not Plato!) and confirmed by Thomas Aquinas. But too many Catholics speak of Plato and Aristotle together, as if their metaphysics are identical. They are in fact nowhere near this.... Read More

4 Errors About the Burden of Proof for God

I used to be a lawyer before entering seminary to prepare for the Catholic priesthood. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that I’m fascinated by questions about the “burden of proof” in religious questions. For example, does the burden of proof fall on the believer or the atheist? What sort of evidence is permissible to meet this burden of proof? Do “extraordinary” claims require extraordinary evidence? Should they meet an extraordinary burden of proof, above the burden... Read More

Does the Bible Say All Atheists are Intellectually Dishonest?

We’ve been discussing the thesis that human beings have a natural inclination toward theism, and that atheism, accordingly, involves a suppression of this inclination. Greg Koukl takes the inclination to be so powerful that resisting it is like “trying to hold a beach ball underwater,” and appears to think that every single atheist is engaged in an intellectually dishonest exercise in “denying the obvious, aggressively pushing down the evidence, to turn his head the other way.”... Read More

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